Is this a dream? I need to pinch myself. Can a small town boy born in LeRoy, Illinois actually be playing in the big leagues? I wonder if my classmates at Washington School and my shoe shine customers at the J.K. Kincaid Barbershop have followed my career? Maybe they’ve forgotten about me since my family moved to Florida in 1908. Does anyone in 2014 know that I’m the only LeRoy native to make the big leagues? but it’s true and you can use your new fangled computer machines and look up the New York Yankee page – there is my name and hometown, Tim Hendryx, LeRoy, Illinois.
My life started Jan. 11, 1891, when Dr. J.A. Tut hill brought me into the world. I was named after my grandfather, Timothy Green Neeley. I started school in 1896 at Washington School. I was a good student and received high marks in all my classes, but did the best in reading, spelling and math. My teacher was Miss Maude Johnston.
I didn’t go to college, so there were no visiting scouts to jump start my career. I was five feet nine inches and 170 pounds, batting and throwing right. I played eight seasons in the majors and 12 in the minors. I played third base and all parts of the outfielder and was considered an above average hitter.
I got my start in pro-baseball at the age of 20 with the Yahoo City Zoos. I must have impressed the right people because before the end of the season it was called up to the big leagues. I was a good defensive player and hit strictly line drives. So on September 4, 1911 I went to the majors to play for the Cleveland Naps which became the Cleveland Indians a few years later. You might have heard of one of my teammates – Joe Jackson who hit .408 that year. We beat the White Sox 9-8.
After a year I was sent to the New Orleans Pelicans. While I was in New Orleans I raised chrysanthemums in the winter and made a lot of money.
I matured the four years I was in New Orleans and by 1915 my batting average of .325 was the best on the team.
In 1915 I was called up to the big leagues once again, this time for the legendary New York Yankees, but I did not get beyond the training camp. The coaches considered me slow of foot in the outfield and not on the bases. I got another shot in the fall when injuries made some openings, but even a year in the minors didn’t help my bulging waistline which the Yankee’s staff considered a hindrance. But when I next reported to camp weighing about 20 pounds lighter, becoming a full-fledged major leaguer in 1917 when I became the regular right fielder.
Sportswriter William J. Slocum had this to say about my new sleek build, “From the standpoint of condition and trim build the New Orleans outfielder ranks second to none in the Yank camp today. He skips around fast even at this stage of the preliminary season and in a few days Magee and High will realize what Gilhooley and Malsel like others now in camp have already discovered. Hendryx will surely make a real fight for a regular berth.”
Drawing walks and hitting with power were my specialties. But I was also a good fielder recording 215 outs and 17 assists in a career-high 125 games that year.
Yankee manager Bill Donovan said I was one of the best men he ever saw at the plate. He said that I seldom swing at a bad ball and he likes to watch me bat.
I spent the next years moving around. I spent 1918 with the St. Louis Browns and 1919 in Louisville, having one of the top batting averages during this time. It was back to the majors in 1920 when I was one of the players added to the Boston Red Sox who had sold off Babe Ruth in the off-season.
This year in Boston proved to be one of my most productive, batting .238 with 54 runs and 73 RBI in 99 game appearances. But I slipped in 1921 and my last major league game was July 26, 1921 when the Red Sox lost to the Indians 8-2. I spent part of the season and 1922 in St. Paul where my batting average climbed to .330 and .342.
Not everyone agreed with the managers who kept moving me around. Baseball Magazine said about me, “Among the men recently let out was Tim Hendryx, who has had three American League trials and who seems a better ball player than his frequent transfers would indicate was really, the case.” Oh, well, there’s not much I can do about that but at least it’s nice to know some appreciate my talents.
I continued to move around the country spending 1923-26 with the San Francisco Seals and finishing up 1926 with the Mobile Bears. I finished up my career in Minnesota and several championship teams. In 1928 I was a member of the championship team of the Southern Minnesota League, the Fairmont Cardinals. In 1929 I played for the Southern Minnesota League Champion Albert Lea Tigers.
In 1917 I was one of the top home run hitters with 5. Don’t laugh, baseballs were quite different back then and didn’t fly near as far as they do today. My five homers tied me for seventh place with Shoeless Joe Jackson and Babe Ruth only hit two that year.. In fact I was just one homer shy of hitting as many as Ty Cobb. So the kid from LeRoy did pretty good that year!!
All in all I had a pretty good run. I played in 416 major league games and 1,520 minor league games. I was a member of two minor league squads which have been ranked in the top 100 minor league teams of all times. In my eight year major league career I was a .276 hitter with six home runs and 192 RBI in 416 games, including 152 runs, 68 doubles, 22 triples, 26 stolen bases and a .372 on-base percentage.
I played with or against some very famous Hall of Fame players. I was a teammate of Shoeless Joe Jackson and Cy Young. I played against Napoleon Lajoie, Honus Wagner, Rube Waddell, Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth. In fact, I broke my finger catching one of Babe Ruth’s line drives.
After baseball I stayed in Minnesota for a couple of years and then made Corpus Christie, Texas my home. I married Elsie Ella Eckhardt, who died in 1920, We had a son, Timothy Green Hendryx. I later married Adela Ramirez and had one daughter, Betty Jane Hendryx.
After baseball I made my living as a paint contractor and taxi driver. My older brother, Alvin, had started the first Check Cab stand in Corpus Christi. Even though I was once an outstanding athlete my ticker wasn’t so good. I had to retire in 1947 after I had a heart attack. I would have three more before my heart gave out August 14, 1957 and I am buried at Rose Hill Memorial Park in Corpus Christi.
I went out of this world as just a small town boy who was LeRoy’s first and maybe last, major league baseball player.